Poetry Out Loud

No longer mandatory, just fun


As first term comes to a close, DHS students are about to embark on a daunting task: Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry competition first launched in 2006 in an effort to increase the appreciation and education of poetry, as well as self-confidence and public speaking skills.

Up until now, Poetry Out Loud has been a mandatory assignment for any first semester English student. This year, however, things have changed.

Much to the elation of some students, Poetry Out Loud is no longer mandatory for any English student unless otherwise determined by their English teacher. The contest has now been made school-wide, and any student, whether they have English first or second semester, is allowed, and is highly encouraged, to participate in Poetry Out Loud. To get involved, students should sign up in their English teacher’s classroom prior to Friday, November 13.

Many students in the past have questioned whether or not Poetry Out Loud should be a mandatory event, or whether it was even a beneficial assignment.

Senior Katelyn McGuire said, “I hated it because I had to do it.” However, after she had actually completed the assignment she said, “In the end I fell in love.”

To most, this program was a burdensome task simply due to the fact that there was to be a grade stamped on their performance in the end. McGuire is among the few students each year, however, who seem to actually turn Poetry Out Loud into an overall experience that betters their self expression and that enhances their poetry. “I appreciate that it’s now open to everyone,” McGuire said. “It’s a different kind of expression that everyone should be able to experience.”

English teacher Jessica Pacheco is one of the few English teachers who is still requiring her students to memorize and recite their poems in front of the classroom. “Requiring [Poetry Out Loud] creates interest and an outlet for creativity,” said Ms. Pacheco.

There is very little introduction to poetry intertwined into DHS’s curriculum and Poetry Out Loud serves as “a gateway for introducing poetry” said Ms. Pacheco.

English teacher John Caron said that requiring Poetry Out Loud in the past was “an initiative to let kids enjoy and connect with poetry.”

Many students are grateful for the shift from mandatory to voluntary. Senior Jaein Jung said, “It’s not fair to make Poetry Out Loud a big part of your grade. There are some people out there who are not comfortable performing in front of others, especially on their ability to memorize.”

Although poetry is a creative outlet that can help students connect with their emotions, sophomore Rachel Pereira said, “I don’t think students should be forced to do Poetry Out Loud.”

Senior Angeli Tillett said, “Studying poetry and memorizing lines for a class are two different things.” On one hand, poetry can be seen as a way of conveying feelings in an artistic style, but requiring Poetry Out Loud made it feel more like a burden. On the other hand, it is a chance for those who enjoy poetry to express the connections and deep emotions they feel for a particular poem.

Poetry Out Loud organizer and English teacher Marek Kulig said, “This contest has long been a cause of angst among the English students. But I believe now that it is no longer mandatory, our voluntary participants will be able to experience poetry’s true potency.”

Kulig believes that by making Poetry Out Loud voluntary, those who do choose to participate will be even more eager to improve their poetry skills as well as their public speaking and self esteem. “In making art part of your spirit you create an essence, a feeling that no one can ever take away from you,” said Mr. Kulig.